Study Guide

The Maltese Falcon Chapter 18

By Dashiell Hammett

Chapter 18

The Fall-Guy

  • Gutman gives Spade ten crisp one-thousand dollar bills in exchange for the falcon.
  • Spade accepts the money, but says they need to find a fall guy who will take the blame for the murders of Archer and Thursby.
  • Spade suggests turning Wilmer in to the police. Initially, Gutman refuses, claiming that Wilmer is like his own son. Spade then suggests using Cairo as the fall guy, even though Wilmer would be better for the part.
  • When Cairo leans down to whisper something in Gutman's ear, Wilmer raises his pistol to defend himself. But Gutman and Cairo lunge at Wilmer and pin him down, while Spade steps forward and knocks him unconscious.
  • Cairo seems distraught for having betrayed Wilmer and anxiously tries to revive him, but Gutman tells Spade that he can have Wilmer for his fall guy.